I recently started re-reading an old book I found called "Perfect Victim" by Christine McGuire and Carla Norton. It's the story of Colleen Stan who was kidnapped while hitchhiking in the late seventies.
This case really interested me as she was missing for seven years before escaping and it made me think of all the missing persons posts I publish here at RLIH. Sometimes when a person has been missing so long the public kind of gives up hope and tends to lean towards the idea that the person has met their end. In this case Colleen showed up again.
There's so many aspects to this case, and it's an unbelievable story. I hope Colleen Stan is doing well now. Not sure what she thought of the book, but there is a comment on the Goodreads website from someone who claims to know her personally writing that Colleen felt negative towards it.
(Also, I know I wrote about this a while back, but I wasn't happy with it so this is the updated post)
Cameron Hooker was an average, mild mannered man with dark, side-parted hair and large spectacles.
If you asked his parents, they would tell you that he was a breeze to raise, co-workers would say he was quiet and unassuming, ask the neighbors and they would tell you that he was just an average married guy who got on with his life and went about his business- at least that’s what they would tell you before his arrest in the mid-eighties for kidnapping a young woman and keeping her as a sex slave and servant.
While Cameron Hooker showed up for work each day, tended to his family (a wife and kid) and pursued his interest in construction and photography, he was also keeping a young woman captive in the basement of the family home.
The young woman (who during the first stages of her captivity was bound and gagged and chain naked in the basement) was a missing girl named Colleen Stan. She was 20 years old at the time of disappearance.
(photo source the daily mail)
Colleen had fallen prey to Hooker and his wife, Janice, while hitchhiking in the late Seventies.
She had planned to surprise a good friend for her birthday 400 miles away in California (from Oregon), and decided to hitch a ride after she had problems with her car.
Assuming the couple (who had a baby with them at the time) would be a safe car to ride in, she was driven to an isolated area, held at knife point by the husband, and kidnapped.
She admitted in an interview (watch it in full here) that when they stopped for a bathroom break at a gas station that she heard a voice in her head telling her to run, but she ignored it- a decision she would come to regret.
Ominously, sat next her in the backseat of the cursed dodge colt was a piece of custom built apparatus that she would unfortunately become closely acquainted with; a little creation of Cameron Hookers that would come to be known as the “head box”.
“It just looked a box, I didn’t know what it was and ignored it”, Colleen later said.
The box was soundproof, insulated, claustrophobic, sense depriving and suffocating.
It was clasped around Colleens head closing shut at the neck. It was certainly a tight fit that had probably been shut over Janice’s head for reference at some point.
It wasn’t a stretch to believe that Hooker’s wife was the test subject for his inventions; after all, it was only because of Colleen’s arrival that Hookers long suffering wife was being relieved of her duties.
Janice, a frizzy haired, bespectacled shell of a woman, with seemingly no self-esteem and abandonment issues, had been forcing herself to comply with Cameron Hookers sexual fantasies since she was just 15 years old (Cameron hooker was 19 at the time).
He had assured her that binding, gagging, whipping, almost drowning and hanging her naked out in the woods were all normal requests. Janice was inexperienced and came from a conservative background with strict parenting. She had no idea about sex and what it really entailed.
She complied against her wishes in the hopes of holding onto her man, who unlike other men, had seemed to take a keen interest in her romantically.
Was it possible that he could tell she would be easy to control and manipulate? It seems no one in her family ever suspected that Cameron Hooker was capable of such twisted things, they liked him, as most people did, from all outward appearances he was just a regular man…A regular man, who would routinely torture, starve, rape and brainwash a young woman for over six years.
(Image from google streetmap)
Colleen was punished and tortured if she spoke, made a noise, asked for water or was unable to eat. She was sexually abused, whipped, suspended from the ceiling for long periods of time, beaten, neglected, forced to work in the basement, kept in a box under the couples bed in sweltering heat, the list goes on…So 9 months later when Cameron Hooker presented a slave contact that he had written up, she signed it.
(To be updated)
She truly believed the man to be all powerful, so when he informed her that he was part of an all seeing, all knowing organization more powerful than any government who could destroy everyone she had ever known and loved if she attempted to escape or alert the authorities, she took it seriously.
(source to be added)
Hooker was the one who brought her pain but also relief, crippling hunger and food, complete darkness and floods of light, isolation and human contact, he controlled her world, he stripped her of her clothes and identity, took away her name and renamed her “Kay” and robbed her of free will, so when he told her of the existence of the all-powerful “company”, she believed it.
He used techniques to control the basic needs and functions of his subject including eating and drinking, bathroom use and sleeping pattern using violence and abuse. Investigators stated that he got most of his ideas and inspiration from magazines and that he had a stack of them in his basement. Colleen said she often remembered the sound of a camera shutter and believed that Hooker had been taking pictures of her, which he developed in his basement darkroom.
Had he been keeping the photographs for personal use or did he submit them to one of the many magazines he subscribed to?
Other than their names, Colleen knew nothing of her captors over the seven years she was enslaved by them.
Although she engaged in bible study sessions with Janice and was forced to work for them, she was otherwise only given commands and orders like a dog and even wore a collar.
Hooker gained confidence after Colleen signed the contract and she finally gained access to other parts of the Hooker’s house in order to perform domestic chores.
The humiliation and abuse did not end however, as she was ordered to strip naked on command in order to be whipped whenever her captor said the word. Despite a pact between Cameron and Janice hooker stating there was to be no sexual contact between “K” and Cameron, Cameron began raping the captive young woman on a monthly basis, an act that Janice considered cheating. The terms that she had originally negotiated were broken.
The couple had relationship problems on and off. At one point Janice left but soon returned as she always did. Colleen was relocated to a trailer home when the couple had to downsize, and kept in a box under their bed for the duration of one year, only being allowed out to perform chores.
An reconstruction of the box in court
It was miserable existence, with seemingly no escape. Even if she could see a way out, she was too terrified to take it, fearing the company would listen to any phone calls and was watching her every move. The fear was so real that she didn’t even attempt to escape when she was eventually allowed to work outside in the garden or permitted to jog around the neighborhood.
She believed that everyone who looked in her direction could be company. Even when she was permitted a phone call to her family, she was unable to seek help, as Cameron Hooker stood breathing down her neck, prepared to hang up at any moment. Colleen was unsure of why exactly he allowed her to call home, perhaps it was to combat the missing posters and missing person’s reports that were circulating.
Most shocking of all, Hooker took Colleen to visit her father and mother in law in their home, dropping her off and picking her up the same day.
He posed as her fiancé and avoided giving her family any contact information with lies that they were in the process of moving. The two even posed in a picture together- something that Hooker couldn’t get around.
Colleen Stan and Cameron Hooker visit Colleen's family.
Colleens father said in various interviews that he believed his daughter had originally joined a cult, as there were a few of them around back then, so when his daughter wasn’t acting her usual self, he didn’t want to push her in fear of not seeing her again.
The visit came at a price, which Colleen paid by being almost exclusively confined to the box under the bed for the next several years. Every reward came with a brutal p punishment, solitary confinement and of course more abuse.
A rack Colleen would be tortured and stretched on.
She was eventually allowed to work outside of the home, to contribute to the Hookers family income. She cleaned rooms alone in a motel and it felt good to be moving around, standing upright and breathing fresh air.
Clearly a danger to society, Cameron Hooker eventually decided that he wanted more slaves, and reportedly drove around local areas with his camera, taking pictures of girls and women he was interested in. Janice was at breaking point, already feeling abandoned and jealous of “Kay”. Eventually she confessed all to the pastor of the church she attended and respecting his position, followed his advice to leave the Hooker family home, and enlighten Colleen with the truth about the Company.
The spell was broken, Colleens mind was free and the invisible handcuffs slipped off with ease. Power flooded back into her and she took back control, calling Cameron Hooker and told him she was leaving.
“I’m leaving.” She said. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Cameron Hooker broke down in tears.
Colleen in court.
Although Janice was the one to report him, she also went back to him as she always did, and followed his orders to destroy all of the evidence. She missed out a few vital pieces however, including a negative for a photograph of the slave contract which became a vital piece of evidence.
The case came to be known as “The girl in the box”.
Cameron Hooker was convicted and sentenced to 104 years. He was denied parole in 2016.
Janice Hooker was not convicted and refuses to talk about the case.